Thursday, November 27, 2008

This week

Monday, discussion on Somaliland and Horn of Africa with Lulu Todd and Ahmed Ibrahim.

Tuesday, President Khama's meeting in the Grand Committee Room. I told him that his father Seretse Khama and I were freshmen together at Balliol in 1945. Then, initiated a motion to disapprove the Immigration Rules changes. Support for postponing the changes from all sides of the House, but the Tories wouldn't vote with us, though David Cameron had an identical motion, not debated, in the Commons. As a result, the changes come into effect tomorrow, halting research programmes in the universities and PCTs.

Wednesday, a presentation by the General Teaching Council to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsies and Travellers in the morning and in the afternoon, fielded a Queston on the processing of visa applications from Sri Lanka and the Maldives, then spoke in the debate on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The session was prorogued at 20.00, giving us a few days off until the new session begins on
December 3.

Today, meeting with two leaders of the United Resistance Front of Darfur, which brings together all the parties except the faction of the JEM that mounted an armed attack on Khartoum, supposedly at the behest of Chad as a reprisal for attacks by Sudan on their capital, Njamena, and SLA Unity, with whom there is a partnership agreement.

The Sudanese Initiative, a semi-official organisation, are recommending that Khartoum off a Vice-Presidency of Sudan to the peope of Khartoum; that comp[ensation be paid for the damage and loss of life caused over the last five years of conflict; that all detainees held by both ides be released, and that Darfur should be reunified. This would lay the ground for the new UN Special Envoy and Chief Mediator, Jilal Bassole of Burkina Faso, to convene a meeting between the parties with a view to a permanent ceasefire and political agreement. Mr Bassole is due in London within the next few weeks, and in the Queen's Speech foreign affairs debate next Wednesday I will have an opportunity of asking the Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, what contribution the UK can make to the peace process.

Tomorrow, to Oxford for a meeting of the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Fund. Over the weekend and next Monday, I rather hope I'll be able to catch up on the paperwork, which has accumulated in several nasty piles!

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